My favourite films of 2013

This has been a great year for the sort of films I like — which is to say, big budget Hollywood films that I can go and see with my good lady on a Friday evening. No arty pretentious stuff here, nothing with subtitles, I like action and adventure and horror.

So without further introduction, here are my top 5 films of 2013, in order:

  1. Mama
    A beautiful ghost story that went beyond the same-old jumps and shocks to deliver several instances of sustained terror.
  2. The Call
    This could have ended up as a made-for-TV drama but the story was strong enough to get it made for the big screen. Halle Berry in the lead put me off, but I had a feeling it was going to be a winner so we gave it a go. It’s a thrill ride of constant tension and excitement, that gets a lot creepier than you might expect.
  3. Elysium
    The story of a world divided by wealth — the poor left behind on earth, the rich on a space station paradise. Absolutely dripping in atmosphere and authenticity, with super-realistic special effects, as you’d expect from Neill Blomkamp, the man behind District 9.
  4. Prisoners
    Some people felt it needed a half hour shaved off the 153-minute running time but honestly I wouldn’t have minded if it had gone on for another hour. A gripping child abduction story that keeps you guessing to the end, and then keeps you thinking.
  5. Bad Grandpa
    I rarely see comedies at the cinema but we made an exception for this Jackass-produced orgy of inappropriateness, based solely on the trailer. It isn’t just outrageous, it has a good heart and some surprisingly touching moments. Johnny Knoxville gets top billing, but 10-year-old Jackson Nicoll is the undeniable star of the show.

Notable others: World War Z for its convincing portrayal of a global story. Oblivion for its sense of isolation in a hi-tech post-apocalyptic world. Gravity for taking you in to its characters’ perilous predicament and making you share every anxious heartbeat. And finally, an honourable mention goes to Assault on Wall Street for its engaging story of a family wronged by the system, let down ever-so-slightly by the third act that could have done with a rewrite and some better direction.

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